Alumni of St. Louis Catholic High School (SLC) in Lake Charles, Louisiana, created a petition demanding a “racial justice” curriculum at their alma mater.
Several graduates of the school called upon the Catholic diocese to revise all curricula to include “racial justice” and BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, & People of Color) podcasts.
“We shouldn’t have to wait until college, or learn about it in documentaries,” said 2009 graduate Natalie Ieyoub, reported KPLCTV News. “This needs to be a part of our curriculum.”
The change.org petition, which, at the time of publication, had nearly 1,100 signatures, accused St. Louis Catholic High School of being “silent on the subject of the murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and Tony McDade (and all those who passed before and after them).”
The petition creators invoked Pope Francis, asserting he “has called Catholics to speak out against injustice”:
We do not want to live in a world where Ben & Jerry’s ice cream is more vocal about injustice than our alma mater. We do not know what to make of the fact that SLC refuses to state plainly that Black Lives Matter—a statement so benign and so obviously true that its omission from your social media platforms speaks volumes.
In presenting their demands to the SLC administration and diocese, the alumni stated the current curriculum does not effectively address “systemic racism or white supremacy.”
“While at SLC, we were taught about the Civil Rights Movement and assigned To Kill a Mockingbird,” the petitioners said. “However, we did not receive formal education about modern-day systemic and institutionalized racism, police brutality, or systems of privilege.”
Alumni of St. Louis Catholic High School have called upon administration and the Catholic Diocese to update all of the district’s curriculum to be more inclusive and address racial history and bias.
The demands include:
- Release a public statement condemning the wrongful murder of George Floyd and all victims of police brutality. If LSU Athletics can put out a statement saying Black Lives Matter, why won’t you?
- Commit to effectively condemning EVERY racist act that happens in the classroom and on school property. White supremacy and racism, whether overt or covert, should not be tolerated at any level.
- Remove police school resource officers from school grounds and events.
- Announce a commitment to holding assemblies at least twice a school year that feature guest speakers of color who will address issues of racism and bias.
Other demands include forced racial quotas to ensure the student population and faculty is “47% White, 47% African American, 0.4% Native American, 1.7% Asian, 0.47% from other races, 2.1% from two or more races;” provision of mental health “resources for students of color addressing anti-racism;” and “creation of more opportunities for low-income students to attend the school.”
The alumni recommended the following course texts for the curriculum:
- Medical Bondage: Race, Gender, and the Origins of American Gynecology by Deirdre Cooper Owens
- Medical Apartheid: The Dark History of Medical Experimentation on Black Americans from Colonial Times to the Present by Harriet A. Washington
- Race After Technology by Ruha Benjamin
- Body and Soul: The Black Panther Party and the Fight Against Medical Discrimination by Alondra Nelson
- A Terrible Thing to Waste:; Environmental Racism and Its Assault On the American Mind by Harriet A. Washington
- The Dutchman and The Slave: Two Plays by LeRoi Jones
- The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander
- Freedom is a Constant Struggle by Angela Y. Davis
- The Autobiography of Malcolm X by Malcolm X and Alex Haley
- Ain’t I A Woman?: Black Women and Feminism by bell hooks
- Black Feminist Thought by Patricia Hill Collins
- Multiplication is for White People: Raising Expectations for Other People’s Children by Lisa Delpit
- How to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America: A Remembrance by Kiese Laymon
- Letter from a Birmingham Jail by Martin Luther King Jr.
- Confederate Statues Were Built To Further A White Supremacist Future by Miles Parks
- White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack by Peggy McIntosh
In response to the petition, the St. Louis Catholic High School administration said in a statement to KPLCTV News the school “constantly evaluates policies, procedures, and language to ensure that we serve our students and those most in need with the level of respect and professionalism that our faith demands.”
“We have an open admission policy and welcome recipients of the Louisiana Scholarship Program,” the school added. “Our goal is to help students to discover their identity as God’s children, made in His image and likeness. St. Louis Catholic High School condemns any form of social injustice, especially racism. St. Peter Claver, our diocesan patron, continues to serve as a hero to inspire us to be saints for today and tomorrow.”